Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S01E04 – Throne for a Loss

In the fourth episode of the first season of Farscape, the crew must try to rescue Rygel after he’s kidnapped. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape. 

So. That happened!

I admit this wasn’t that engaging of an episode, mostly because I kept waiting for the thing that would draw me into the conflict, and it never came. I’m not one of those people who needs a television show to be an instant exercise in endless tension. I love a good slow burn; I love giving shows time to develop, and I’m definitely giving this one time to do just that. The first two episodes were GREAT, and I’m hoping that Farscape is taking time to find its voice. I don’t know what that voice will be, but it’s the little moments in “Throne For a Loss” that make me think there’s something to this show I’ll come to enjoy.

(Oh my god, I just got the title. THROWN for a loss, oh my god oh my god.)

That being said, I just could not get into the plot involving Crichton, D’Argo, or Aeryn trying to rescue Rygel. We only get a surface-level view of the Tavlek, and it wasn’t enough for me. Who are these people? Do they live on the planet below or is that just the base of operations? Do they seek out figures of importance to kidnap just to collect ransoms? What is their business model? Are they raised from birth to adapt to life with the gauntlet and its drug? Was the boy who Zhaan helped throughout “Throne for a Loss” the first Tavlek to experience life without a gauntlet?

I had a lot of questions that weren’t answered. Which is fine! This could have all been just an introduction to this race, and we’ll get more of them in the future. My problem with this episode was that as each of the crew put on the gauntlet, we got basically the same story told three times. The gauntlet heightened the physical ability of the person, that person then turned into a total asshole, they kicked the shit out of everyone around them, and then it was taken off. Then exhaustion! While it was fun to see Aeryn and D’Argo bond over insulting all of humanity, and it was also great to see Crichton get involved, I didn’t feel like this went anywhere significant.

I admit that the resolution was totally surprising to me. We’ve seen evidence that Crichton himself is fairly genre savvy, so I felt like his eventual plea to Bekhesh was Crichton’s way of acknowledging that there was no clever, last-minute way to save Rygel. No, he simply told the truth: Rygel is worthless to the Tavlek, he has no kingdom or empire, and there’s nothing aboard Moya that the Tavlek’s could possibly want. I was also amused by the scenes between Rygel and Jotheb! Though Jotheb’s story ultimately fizzled out, too. It’s funny that he didn’t want to be freed, but does Rygel change or learn anything from his experience? And really, that’s my problem with this episode. The events here don’t really matter to any greater story or development.

There’s one exception though. I adored all of Zhaan’s scenes with the unnamed Tavlek teenager. I don’t have any doubt naming her as my favorite character so far, and Virginia Hey is so charming and engaging as the character. While most of this episode helps establish Zhaan as a deeply moral character, one who I can see as a force to temper the other crew members, this story also demonstrates how intimidating she can be. Without pretentiousness, she helps the Tavlek overcome his addiction to the drug in the gauntlet. She knows that this creature hates her, will resist her attempt to help him, and may even ultimately turn on her. And yet? She treats him with endless care, only losing her temper once. Well, if you can even describe it as her losing her temper! I don’t know that that’s totally fair. She simply shows him that she’s in control, that she easily has the ability to overpower him, but that she purposely isn’t using that to hurt him.

It’s tender, sweet, and, most importantly, a deep sign of respect. She offers the Tavlek a possibility, one he’s never had before: freedom. Free from the drug, free to do what he wanted. Zhaan respects choice more than anything. Sadly, the Tavlek returns to what he knows after he’s freed. But she gave him an option, and it was his right to follow the path he wanted.

The video for “Throne for a Loss” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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